NAVAL UNIT WHERE WOMEN ARE NOT WELCOME
By PHILIP NWOSU
DAILY SUN Newspapers
Friday, December 25, 2009
The Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service (SBS) is gender insensitive and the commanders are not hiding it. Indeed, in this special naval service, women are not welcome at all. Only men of valour could serve in the SBS. The only word that could best describe the unit is that it is a virile force modelled alongside similar units in the Royal Navy.
The Special Boat Service is the Special Forces unit of the Nigerian Navy which was established when Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye was Chief of Naval Staff.
The roles of the Special Boat Services are predominantly focused on, but not restricted to, littoral and riverine operations, including Reconnaissance and Surveillance, covert beach reconnaissance (hydrographic survey) in advance of an amphibious assault, recovery or protection of ships and oil installations subject to hostile state or non-state action, Maritime Counter-Terrorism and Offensive Action.
With the constant attack on Nigeria’s oil facility by militants in the Niger Delta, the Nigerian Navy believes that the military answer is the creation of a Special Boat Service to defeat the militants.
The unit is just three years old(established in 2006) and already it has trained over 100 naval personnel in reconnaissance and surveillance, covert beach reconnaissance in advance of an amphibious assault and recovery and protection of ships and oil installations subject to terrorist action. At the recent graduation of 27 naval personnel trained as members of the group to fight terrorism, the Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service (NNSBS) Navy Captain Apochi Suleiman, said the unit has trained the personnel to be filled with vigour and energy. The naval personnel made up of four officers and 23 ratings were trained in various aspects of anti-terrorist combat for 20 months at the Special Boat Service base inside the naval facility in Lagos.
To show that they have been trained to confront any obstacle, the group staged a mock war within the premises which it tagged “beaching and combat march demonstration.”
The mock war featured a demonstration of what beaching was. The demonstration portrayed a unit of the Special Boat Service in a confrontation with some group of rebels who had laid in ambush for it. The unit was able through some of the combat maneouvres they have been taught at the SBS to overcome the rebel outfit after which it embarked on a combat march which was organized to show strength.
Speaking with Daily Sun at the graduation ceremony, the Commanding Officer of the Special Boat Service, Navy Captain Apochi Suleiman, said the force is specially trained to carry out multi-dimensional operations particularly on land, sea and air.
Suleiman said that the qualities required of persons called up to be members of the unit include basic naval medical standard, good sight, must be a good swimmer and must meet naval physical capabilities requirement. Intakes, he said, must be able to embark on 42 press-up exercises under two minutes and be able to run 3.2kilometres under 15minutes
He said that the creation of this special group within the Nigerian Navy became necessary following the incessant attacks on Federal Government facilities in the protection of the Nigerian Navy. He said operatives of the SBS would, after graduation, be deployed to all operational areas of the Nigerian Navy, explaining that since the outfit was created, nine officers and 101 ratings have passed through its rigorous training .The outfit was fashioned after the United States Navy Seal, the Royal Navy Special Boat Service and the Indian Maritime Commando.
Captain Suleiman told Daily Sun that the group will support Nigerian Navy’s effort in counter-terrorism, anti piracy and search and rescue operations. Speaking during the graduation ceremony, the Flag Officer Commanding Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) Rear Admiral Ekwere Udoh Ekwere advised the graduating personnel to put in their best in uplifting naval operations.
Admiral Ekwere who was represented by the Chief Staff Officer of the Command, Commodore O.B Ogunjimi, urged them to make personal effort at getting themselves in better shape.He enjoined them to ensure that discipline becomes their watchword and also work towards obeying rules of the country as spelt out by the Federal Government.